Cunnilingus apparently increases duration of copulation in the Indian flying fox, Pteropus giganteus

PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59743. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059743. Epub 2013 Mar 27.


We observed a total of 57 incidences of copulation in a colony of the Indian flying fox, Pteropus giganteus, over 13 months under natural conditions. The colony consisted of about 420 individuals, roosting in a Ficus religiosa tree. Copulations occurred between 07.00 h and 09.30 h from July to January, with more occurring in October and November. Initially males groomed their penis before approaching a nearby female. Females typically moved away and males followed. When the female stopped moving, the male started licking her vagina (cunnilingus). Typically each bout of cunnilingus lasted for about 50 s. In 57 out of 69 observations, the male mounted the female and copulated. The duration of copulation varied from 10 to 20 sec. After completion of copulation, the male continued cunnilingus for 94 to 188 sec. The duration of pre-copulatory cunnilingus and copulation was positively correlated whereas, the duration of pre- and post-copulatory cunnilingus was negatively correlated. Apart from humans, oral sex as foreplay prior to copulation is uncommon in mammals. Another pteropodid bat, Cynopterus sphinx exhibits fellatio with females licking the penis of males during copulation. It appears that bats, especially pteropodids perform oral sex, either cunnilingus or fellatio, possibly for achieving longer copulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Copulation / physiology*
  • Female
  • India
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Time Factors

Grant support

The study was supported by the University Grants Commission, New Delhi with a Major Research Project to GM. Additional support was provided by UGC-CAS III to the School of Biological Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University. In both cases UGC had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.